News that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have scrapped their inquiry into the ‘culture of banking’ came as no surprise. The Independent (sic) Inquiry into Banking chaired by Sir John Vickers had already ducked the issue in 2011. In July this year George Osborne sacked the FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley because he was upsetting the banks by talking too tough. We don’t however need an inquiry to establish what is the prevailing “culture” of banks and bankers. It was and remains that:
Greed is Good;
notwithstanding the 2007 bail-out by tax payers, banks are free from any social responsibility or obligation;
a near total contempt for the essential business of providing cash transmission and deposit services for ordinary working people;
a hunger for short-term speculative profits; and
a belief that banking elites (but not, of course, the people who clean their offices), are entitled to a cut of these speculative profits even when they subsequently prove to be illusory.
Vickers’ abject report, the firing of Wheatley and scrapping the inquiry demonstrate that nothing has been learnt from the financial collapse of 2006-7 or even the various mis-selling scandals and Libor manipulations that have been uncovered. Osborne is gambling on reflating the UK economy before the next financial crisis hits us. He may, or may not, achieve this. Two things are, however, certain: the next financial crisis is already coming down the track; and when it arrives we won’t be suckered this time into protecting the speculators and making working people bear the cost.